Thursday, April 30, 2009

May Festival

"White coral bells upon a slender stalk,
Lilies-of-the valley line my garden walk,
Oh, how I wish that I could hear them ring!
That will happen only when the fairies sing."

From Festivals and Fairs, The Illustrated Fairy Gazette, 2009
Listen carefully, wherever you are, and you may hear the fairies sing. Happy May Morning everyone!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Fairy Path

The deluge of new work is upon us and I have to separate myself from distractions for a time, like the little maid in this endpaper from my copy of Louisa May Alcott's An Old Fashioned Girl. But there is time for a walk first....
Despite the encroaching suburbs the woodlands are still to be found along the creeks and deep ravines. We went for a long walk in our nearby provincial park, where in a short while masses of trilliums and trout lilies will appear.

We started into the tall woods

following the edge of the ravine

then down the sloping trail
to the creek

for a stroll along the sunny banks

before starting home again,

to the fairies (in whose company time seems beckoningly elastic). As a child I bought every paper doll available in the local book stores. Now I design for Posy, her models and their wardrobes, for our Illustrated Fairy Gazettes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tools of the Trade

Preparing for the start of a new session of watercolour classes, at the midnight hour I was cleaning up palettes to load with fresh clean colours. It turned out I was using the new brand of coughdrop-impregnated tissues, which made the palettes cherry-menthol-fresh.
The tools of this watercolour trade are simple enough:
a few good brushes (silky-soft, but with a strong snap-back to position when flexed)
a palette and some artist-grade colours,
a block of 140 lb watercolour paper,
plus an HB pencil, my wonderful mystery-putty eraser, a box of tissues, and (though in practice I rarely use it, opting for brush control instead) a bottle of liquid latex removable masking fluid.

Simplicity is often the key to good painting, and to quote from Louisa May Alcott's An Old Fashioned Girl, "taste is economy sometimes". At the drawing stage I put everything in, then with the eraser I pare it down to the essential lines before starting to paint.

It wasn't until I started working for the greeting card industry that I was introduced to the liquid satiny qualities of artist-grade tube colours. For years I worked with a selection of fine brushes (my only extravagance) and a box of student-grade watercolour cakes, a boxed set. Despite their limitations, and perhaps because I didn't know any better, it was possible to produce clean bright colours that have lasted over the years.

One such early painting was
has come up to town
In a yellow petticoat
and a green gown."

And so she has.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Easter Weekend

It is deceptively sunny this Easter weekend. The wind is sharp, driving in a cold spray from the lake.
Not everyone minds the cold...

...and there are sunny places in which to rest a while among the early violets.

I know, there are beautiful gardens and natural landscapes that are simply covered with flowers like these and more, profusions of snowdrops or daffodils or bluebells, all in their proper season. There used to be woods near here that were starred with masses of trilliums in the spring. In their place now are streets of new houses with neat oblongs of green lawn and small beds or planters of garden centre flowers, and only fragments of the woodlands and wild flowers remain.
Before the bulldozers moved in I took along some plastic bags and a trowel on my morning walks and brought home clumps of bulbs and roots, wild geraniums, and some surprises too. I dug them in and waited for spring, and behold, they rose again!

Happy Easter, everyone.